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If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

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JHarris
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If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by JHarris » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:54 pm

Let me give some introductory information for this thread. My name is Jeff Harris and I had the honor to drive for Mike Dunn and Race Prep from 1988- the 90's. I also had the pleasure to spend the summer of 1988 at the Race Prep shop in Chattsworth, California where I learned the ins and outs of everything from motor building to product packaging. I had the pleasure not only to learn from what I would consider to be the most upstanding guy in the business (Mike Dunn), but also got to know his parents, brother Steve and sister Britt. In my 26 years in this sport I have either raced for, dealt with, spent time around or otherwise had some significant interaction with nearly every race team out there and have yet to meet anyone like Mike. This was again demonstrated when I recently contacted Mike and told him of this forum and the continued interest in Race Prep products and the Pro Radiant. (which I still consider to be the best 4wd car ever built, bar none!) I asked Mike if he would be willing to answer the questions of the members who wanted more information about the parts, products, set ups, paint jobs and stories of the past. Without hesitation and in true Mike Dunn style, he agreed. So with that, feel free to post your questions for Mike and I will forward them to him. His responses will be cut and pasted exactly as he types it. The same will apply to the questions. There will be no editing on my part.
Last edited by JHarris on Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:37 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by Ruffy » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:05 am

Excellent initiative Jeff, this should be exciting and I am personally looking forward to watching this thread.
:D

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by Ayk Viper » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:27 am

Hi Jeff,

I will let prp and bormac ask their questions first so as to not waste Mike's time with my questions...so I will ask you questions if that is OK. Anything you care to write would be fascinating reading with regards to the Ayk cars you have seen and driven eg. did Race Prep's association with Ayk start with the Radiant or the earlier Vipers and 2wd. One small fact question is did the Pro Radiant get released some with Maverick-esque bodies and some Boost shells? I'm guessing that as the Pro was a Race Prep release they were more flexible to what was available from Ayk.

thank you and cheers and please, please bombard us with anything you choose to write :) :)

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by JHarris » Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:04 am

My experience with the AYK cars was solely with the Pro Radiant. As for your questions; I have forwarded them to Mike. There's nobody better to answer anything Race Prep/Pro Radiant than the source itself!

On a side note, somewhat off topic and throwing him a little under the bus; The post by Ruffy reminded me that he is another extremely knowledgeable individual with a great amount of Associated/Reedy experience. Also, Ruffy worked at Composite Craft for many years and oversaw the production of the composite components, including those manufactured for Houge. Add to that his great personality and you will find Ruffy to be an invaluable resource for all things Composite Craft!

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by AYKBOBCAT » Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:48 am

Very good idea! Thanks for this...

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by J.M. » Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:37 am

Wow Jeff, Im blown away by this post and your efforts to lend a hand to those who wantknow more about Race Prep and the Dunn family.

Im not sure where to start as far as questions go as I know very little about the Race Prep team. All I can say is that I am hungry to learn more as it amazes me just how successful Mike Dunn was with a car that seemed like the underdog of the day. Not that I dont love the Pro Radiant/Boost but most would have considered a chain drive back at the 89 worlds to be a little behind the times when it comes to what the competition were driving. Still the car IS a weapon! My good friend Ant (an engineer) told me that chain drive is more power efficient than belts. Perhaps this is something that aided Mike's Radiant in the 89 worlds and astonishingly got him into the A finals even with a wheel falling off mid race in one of the heats.

Im not certain what questions I would have to ask of Mike but would prefer to let Mike put forward any points of view he might have forward or let others in first.

What i'd love to see though are any pictures that might be floating around of his cars (or himself for that matter). The Race Prep team paint jobs looked ace as did his Pro Radiants.

Thankyou- Jason Millward
-Jason.

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My collection-http://www.tamiyaclub.com/showroom.asp?id=10980

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by prp » Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:54 am

JHarris is a KINGGGGGGGGGGG.... :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Thanks a lot JH, I have so many questions, I thinks like Bormac, I prefer to let Mike put forward any points of view .
And maybe , Mike and Steve can joined us on RC10Talk.... :D
Bye PRP

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by markt311 » Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:10 am

When I lived in Arizona, Race Prep was the only stock motor to have if you wanted a chance at winning. Thanks for doing this!

The one question I have is how did Race Prep become the focus of one of Trinity's bash ads? I remember the ad where they had cut up race prep motors. All the local racers just laughed because although uncle ernie might have sold a ton of motors the Race Preps were always fast right out of the package and lasted 2 times longer.

Thanks
Mark
Mark

Aaaaahhhh crap! I'm about to get passed by that orange truck!

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by Dirtdiver » Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:21 am

I would ask Mike Dunn if he could provide background information on the Race Prep ceramic armature motors.

Thank-you

dirtdiver

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by Bongo Fury » Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:01 pm

Another awesome thread brewing here me thinks, a hearty Thank You to Mr. Harris and Mr. Dunn.

How about something deceptively simple, yet vital, motor brushes. The R & P brushes that were a common starting brush for stock and mod builds, sold under many names if I remember. Weren’t these a Race Prep item to start with? When were they first available, any stories about their development? Care to toss out a number of how many were sold?
Dad always told me to drink gin, not vodka…
At least then maybe people wouldn’t think I was just stupid!

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by J.M. » Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:43 pm

What happened to all his old race gear? Was it stashed away, sold off or given away????
-Jason.

Still known as- bormac

My collection-http://www.tamiyaclub.com/showroom.asp?id=10980

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by JHarris » Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:52 pm

it amazes me just how successful Mike Dunn was with a car that seemed like the underdog of the day. Not that I dont love the Pro Radiant/Boost but most would have considered a chain drive back at the 89 worlds to be a little behind the times when it comes to what the competition were driving. Still the car IS a weapon! My good friend Ant (an engineer) told me that chain drive is more power efficient than belts.

While the Pro Radiant may have been seen by many as an underdog, in reality the performance of the vehicle was probably better than anything that was out at the time. The problem with the vehicle was efficiency. Although a chain drive is generally pretty efficient, these vehicles were fast as lightning but had trouble making run time. I put mine into the "B" at the 1989 Winterchamps and never ran past 3:45 under power. (those were the days of 4 minute races). Anyone who drove one would probably agree. The popularity of the Associated, Losi and Yokomo drivers contributed to the popularity of their vehicles. As I have said to several different people over the years, the Pro Radiant is THE BEST 4wd I ever drove! If I could get my hands on one I would love to try one in today's world with the brushless/LiPo combinations that we have. For me personally, I currently run a B44 and just can't get comfortable with the car. The Pro Radiant would drift around the corners and was extremely predictable. Today's cars are touring cars with knobby tires. They are not as fun or cool, in my opinion.

What i'd love to see though are any pictures that might be floating around of his cars (or himself for that matter). The Race Prep team paint jobs looked ace as did his Pro Radiants.

I have some old pictures that I can try to post. I'm not sure if I will be better to scan them or take a digital picture of the print, but it will figure something out.

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by JHarris » Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:19 pm

Ayk Viper wrote:Hi Jeff,

I will let prp and bormac ask their questions first so as to not waste Mike's time with my questions...so I will ask you questions if that is OK. Anything you care to write would be fascinating reading with regards to the Ayk cars you have seen and driven eg. did Race Prep's association with Ayk start with the Radiant or the earlier Vipers and 2wd. One small fact question is did the Pro Radiant get released some with Maverick-esque bodies and some Boost shells? I'm guessing that as the Pro was a Race Prep release they were more flexible to what was available from Ayk.

thank you and cheers and please, please bombard us with anything you choose to write :) :)


At the time of our import agreement with AYK, the Radiant was in production. The Pro Radiant was a design effort mostly of Race Prep. The car was exclusive to Race Prep. AYK developed their own version called the Boost. The Pro Radiant and Boost were identical except for the body and wheel color. I'm not sure if AYK ever released the car with the Maverick body.

Of course this is all from memory and may not be 100%.

Mike
Last edited by JHarris on Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by JHarris » Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:52 pm

The one question I have is how did Race Prep become the focus of one of Trinity's bash ads? I remember the ad where they had cut up race prep motors. All the local racers just laughed because although uncle ernie might have sold a ton of motors the Race Preps were always fast right out of the package and lasted 2 times longer.

In my opinion. Ernie is a great guy. Until you engage in business with him. Which is the sign of a shrewd business man. I think it was the threat of Race Prep taking a chunk of his share of the motor market that drove that campaign. We gained more than we lost from that ad. I remember thinking that we got some free advertising. It was a gift from Uncle Ernie. He will probably tell you the same thing today. That ad was a big mistake.


I would ask Mike Dunn if he could provide background information on the Race Prep ceramic armature motors.


We were approached by AYK with the idea of the ceramic shaft. The biggest thing I liked about the idea was that it was true. When they press the armature stack plates onto the steel shaft it must be done in groups of 2 or 3. This would tend to bind the steel shaft and sometimes warp it. Later we found a mfg. that would twist the plates (like a skewed armature) back and forth to releive the pressure prior to coating the armature. This would keep the steel shafts straight. As for the ceramic shaft, we tested the arms and really liked the consistancy of the arms. They had real low mechanical drag. The mistake we made was not giving the armature to an average racer to test. If the armature took a big hit the weight of the stacks could snap the shaft. It would snap between the commutator and the stacks.
Along the lines of this same subject. Much earlier in the history of the stock motor wars, the ROAR officers held a meeting to try to control stock motor developement. This was during the time when the yokomo motor was very popular and the Race Prep AYK motor came out and pretty much took over the market. Back then the way to advance the timing on the Yok motor was to twist the comm in relation to the stacks. RP/AYK built their motors with advanced timing from the factory. The yoks were at 11 degrees so we introduced our motors with 20 degrees. Eventually we had 30 degree motors. Since the ROAR officers were our competitors they didnt do us any favors when rewriting the rules. They realized that they had to control timing advance, but with the Yok motors ability to be twisted they mandated commutator locks. The funny part is that they all were aware that it was impossible to twist a RP/AYK motor due to the "tight as hell" fit of the shaft. Quoted from one of the ROAR officers in the meeting. So rather than change the rules to accomadate the one mfg. that was doing the right thing, they changed the rules and forced everyone to spend $ developing commutator locks. In the end, you could still twist the motors even though they had comm. locks.


How about something deceptively simple, yet vital, motor brushes. The R & P brushes that were a common starting brush for stock and mod builds, sold under many names if I remember. Weren’t these a Race Prep item to start with? When were they first available, any stories about their development? Care to toss out a number of how many were sold?

The R & P brushes is a great success story. I would say that we first sold these in 1985 or 1986. We sold in the millions. Thats the truth. Every R or P brush that was sold went through our shop first no matter who packaged it. Early in our venture into the motor brush market I was testing a number of different brushes. There were so many different compounds that it was easy to get them mixed up. So at that point I decided that I was going to have some sort of ID mark on the compound. Thats why I came up with the R & P. It turned out to be the best marketing decision we ever made. When the consumer went to replace his motor brushes, he was most likely to ask for the brush with an R or P on it. The brushes worked really well. They were still one of the best on the market til the end of the brushed motor. For the life of me I cant figure out why none of the other Mfg.s put ID marks on their brushes. I think Trinity put an "S" on one of their brushes indicating a Spec brush. Many of the top Mfg.s would buy brushes from us. Some even swallowed their pride and put them in their team motors even though they manufatured their own line of brushes.

What happened to all his old race gear? Was it stashed away, sold off or given away????

I never really kept my cars for keep sake reasons. I do still have some cars on the shelf. There was one car that I planned on keeping but someone stole it from my house. He was a friend that was painting our house. He asked me if he could have my old cars since he still played with the old school stuff. I explained to him that I was keeping it as keep sake. Months later I discovered it missing. It was my "Scorpion". Originally they were introduced as the Cox Scorpion then the Kyosho Scorpion. The car was modeled after the full size buggy built by Unique Metal Products for driver Glenn Harris. This is the popular brand that emerged onto the racing scene just after the Tamiya cars and prior to the RC10. I think I won more races with this car than any other brand. It was very trick for its time. My car even had titanium chassis rails. I got 2nd place in one of the first ORRCA nationals @ Del Mar, Ca. (ORCCA was prior to ROAR getting into off-road). I finished 2nd to Gil jr in the open class and 2nd to Jay Halsey in the modified class. Back then Open class was just that. Same as modified now. And Modified back then is now stock class. All three of us raced the Scorpion. Jay's had a baja bug body on it with his famous rainbow paint job.
Last edited by JHarris on Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: If you could ask Race Prep's Mike Dunn......

Post by Ayk Viper » Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:12 pm

It's wrong to dilute this thread with thanks but even more wrong not to thank you and Mike for your time and effort. Thanks indeed!

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